Canadian FM Holds 'Positive' Talks With PA
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird held what he termed "positive" talks on Saturday with Palestinian Authority leaders in Ramallah.
Baird, on a four-day visit to Israel, met with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and foreign minister Riyad al-Malki.
The Canadian minister, whose country is a close ally of Israel, told reporters that the talks were "very positive", despite differences that were raised, he said according to AFP, without elaborating.
Referring to plans by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to head to the region next week, Baird said "we should be realistic, but we do appreciate his shuttle diplomacy following President (Barack) Obama's visit" last month.
"We are very keen obviously to see a successful resolution of all the outstanding issues... I am very pleased that Secretary Kerry is engaged personally on this important process."
The State Department said on Wednesday that Kerry will return in an effort to build on a series of talks last month between American and regional leaders.
Expectations are growing that the US administration is ready to resume some kind of shuttle diplomacy to rekindle the moribund peace process, which has stalled since late 2010.
Malki, at the same press conference, also played down differences and said Canada was helping "in several areas towards building our state, especially in the fields of justice and security."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally intervened in November in an effort to pressure Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to drop his bid for upgraded status at the United Nations, which was later approved by a vote of 138 to nine, with 41 abstentions.